There’s a movement going on out there my friends. No, I’m not talking about a political campaign or some social justice cause. I’m talking about “The Pete Shirt Crew” movement taking place within the comic book community. Meet Pete Carbonaro CEO and Founder of Heroes Haven Comics in Tampa, Florida. And these t-shirts with his face on them are popping up all over the country, and have even made there way to Puerto Rico and Canada too!
It all started this past May on Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) at Pete’s comic shop. Artist Larry Watts (Army of Darkness & more) and friend to Pete ripped this selfie image from his Facebook page, designed a t-shirt and had 10 of them made up to wear as a gag at Heroes Haven on FCBD. Everyone got a great laugh and Pete of course took the joke in good spirit.
It turns out though that more people wanted the t-shirts and requests started coming in. Since the first batch of ten were already gone, Pete ordered another 100. Next thing you know, family, friends, customers, fellow comic collectors, started rocking the Pete shirt all over. So far shirts have shipped from Heroes Haven in Florida to Arkansas, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and Canada. So, if you’re attending a comic convention somewhere and you happen to see someone wearing a t-shirt with a really big smiling face on it, well, you now know why.
Some of you reading this might be thinking to yourself, why the hell would someone want to wear a shirt with someone else’s mug on it, right? Yeah, it’s a funny t-shirt, but my assumption is people also wear it because they like and respect the man on it. The truth is Pete is not only a savvy and successful business owner who offers customers an array of products and services, but he’s an overall great guy who is passionate about what he does for a living.
“To me, the shirt is 2 things: a private joke to himself that everyone is part of and a fun homage to a seemingly really nice fella.” -Lorne Knapp (who is from Canada and the fellow in featured image)
As for myself, I met Pete a few years back via the comic collecting community on Facebook. Last August while visiting family in Tampa I decided to take all my younger cousins to Heroes Haven where I met him in person for the first time. He gave me the grand tour showing me the back warehouse filled with comics galore and the small office where he works his magic pressing and cleaning comics (a service I have used and highly recommend). It’s an awesome comic shop owned by a cool guy, who is backed-up by an equally cool staff. So if you enjoy reading and collecting comics, be sure to check them out, and, perhaps down the line we’ll catch you rocking the Pete shirt too!